By AJNews staff
(AJNews) – On May 29, at the Carriage House Inn in Calgary, friends and supporters of Canadian Magen David Adom (CMDA) gathered to celebrate Magen David Adom’s 92 years as Israel’s national emergency response organization. It was a truly gala celebration. In less than a century, Israel has turned a tiny piece of land into one of the most remarkable achievements in modern history. MDA has been there all along the way as Israel’s only EMS and blood services organization, made up of paramedics, nurses, technicians, and thousands upon thousands of volunteers, playing a vital role in ensuring the continuity and prosperity of the country. CMDA has been there with a helping hand, and Calgary’s support has been inspirational.
“Our main mission is to save lives in Israel,” said Sharon Fraiman, Western Region Director of CMDA. “Prepare yourself to be challenged, excited and inspired as we gather here today to celebrate CMDA’s wonderful activities in Israel and around the world.”
Over 340 people came to celebrate and support the incredible achievements of Magen David Adom in the gorgeous ballroom at the Carriage House Inn. The recently renovated ballroom was magnificent; it was decorated for royalty and the kosher food, musical entertainment and overall ambience was exceptional.
Proudly on display was an ambulance that was jointly donated in memory of Sam Ousher Switzer by the Sam Ousher Switzer Charitable Foundation and by Fania and Leo z”l Wedro in memory of their parents who died in the Holocaust. The unwavering love and support provided by Lenny and Faigel Shapiro, Darlene Switzer and the Sam Ousher Switzer Charitable Foundation, and by Fanny Wedro has been phenomenal, said Fraiman.
She presented a plaque to Lenny Shapiro in recognition of his many years of dedication to CMDA and the leadership role that he has taken on for the Calgary Division. He and Faigel recently donated a state-of-the-art CMDA boat that will be used to save lives at the Kinneret. A plaque was also presented to Fania Wedro who donated a standard ambulance in addition to a special first responder’s vehicle, and to Darlene Switzer who accepted the plaque on behalf of the Ousher Switzer Charitable Foundation for their generous donation of an ambulance. These donations are so appreciated, noted Fraiman and they demonstrate the huge impact and commitment of the Calgary community.
Special guest speaker at the gala was Dr. Shafir Botner, Director of Magen David Adom’s Paramedic School. Dr. Botner has been a veteran MDA paramedic for nearly 20 years. He is one of only a handful of first responders serving in MDA’s Helicopter Service. Dr. Botner oversees a comprehensive program that trains more than 90,000 people annually, including members of the general public, institutions, physicians and nurses, as well as MDA first responders.
“Do you recognize this ambulance?” asked Dr. Botner, gratefully acknowledging the generous donations. “Have you noticed that it’s here?”
There is no doubt about the efficacy of Magen David Adom, he added. It is saving lives in record time. “So you hear about terror attacks in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem and elsewhere, and over 90 years of Magen David Adom,” said Dr. Botner. “The average time of answering the call at an MDA Dispatch Centre is 2 seconds and the average time for someone with MDA application to reach you at each point is less than 2 minutes.” Simply put – MDA saves lives.
Fraiman also presented a plaque to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. He offered these words to those in attendance. “I just want to say thank you to all of you who continue to contribute to important charities here, showing the Alberta spirit throughout the Covid era but also for our generosity to important causes in the rest of the world – and central to those is the Magen David Adom.
“Of course, running an emergency management agency and service like the MDA is difficult anywhere at the best of times but we all know that MDA plays a central role and fills a uniquely important need in the State of Israel.”
The gala featured wonderful musical entertainment from jazz and swing singer Barry Shaw, as well as performances by Indigenous dancers from Tsuu’tina Nation.
CMDA recognizes the importance of inclusivity and respecting our neighbours, said Fraiman. “We are working with our Indigenous neighbours as part of our Reconciliation Project,” she said while presenting a plaque to Chief Lee Crowchild. The Tsuu’tina Nation participated in the CMDA lifesaving program “First 7 minutes” taught by paramedic Don Sharpe.
Chief Crowchild, a third generation Chief of Tsuu’tina Nation also addressed the audience. A passionate advocate for the environment and sustainable energy practices, he led the charge to protect the water that runs through his nation and on into Calgary. He spoke about racism and the need for respect and understanding.
He said, “I do care how you teach your children, your grandchildren to become good people, how to live with my grandsons and great grandsons, so that they don’t know what hate is, they don’t know what it means to be prejudiced. They only know that we have to survive [together] as human beings. Why? Because the frogs are still singing to us.”
Calgary Chairman of CMDA Lenny Shapiro wrapped up the evening event by encouraging everyone to continue donating to MDA and supporting Israel. “We can feel confident tonight that we are helping Magen David Adom,” said Shapiro. “You are all doing a great job. Please continue; see yourselves as trailblazers and you can save lives. Enjoy the evening and thank you all for coming.”